Whoa, you guys. Brace yourselves. Today’s wedding is amazing for about a million reasons. First off, I assume that no one ever takes my advice (I know that might be crazy, but it’s sort of my base line assumption), and I was staggered to find that Emily did. Advice I left in the comments no less. When Emily left a comment stressed about how to plan her elopement, I pointed out that, no matter what the wedding media is preaching these days, the whole beauty of elopements is that there is nothing to plan. You grab the love of your life, the outfit, and maybe some flowers, and you run off and do it (or as Alyssa so eloquently told us, “What Grammy kept telling you really is true. All you need is the man, the preacher and the dress. Or the woman, the officiant and two dresses. Or WHATEVER. But that really is all you need.”) And no, you don’t need to plan a wedding after you elope, because marriage is the thing. So I am beyond thrilled to let Emily tell you the magical story of how her simple elopement went down in New Orleans, with chap-stick and Spin Pins. It’s going to start your week off just right.
My wedding was a very zero-to-sixty affair. In October, if you had asked me if I ever saw myself getting married, my reaction would have been equal parts cynical, haughty, and negative. Growing up, there was no happy marriage model in my life. The most important women in my life, my mother, my Nana, and my Aunt Lucinda, had four bad marriages between them, and I was determined to learn from their mistakes. I saw marriage as trading your independence and your sense of self for… actually, I wasn’t even sure what for. And I wasn’t terribly interested to find out.
But in November, everything changed, because my father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away quite suddenly. All I could think was that my Dad wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle. He wouldn’t be there to watch me get married. Further more, I realized that my boyfriend, the man who flew down on his Christmas break to help me pack up my Dad’s house, the man who was so lovely to all of the most important women in my life, that was the man that I wanted to marry.
I finished my final college classes from home while I tied up all the loose ends of my Dad’s estate. Mostly a lot of unpleasant phone calls to creditors and completing more paperwork than I thought possible. I visited my boyfriend a couple of times during all of this mess, but for the most part our relationship was text messages and falling asleep on the phone together at night. I flew back to school in May for graduation, which was a huge family affair. After I flew home again, we were having a continuation of a, “I can’t do this long distance thing anymore,” argument, and my boyfriend said, “Well, why don’t you just move in?” So I did. And after I moved in, we had a long conversation about our relationship, all our ups and downs and we decided, together, that we wanted to get married. So we started planning.
Despite my views on marriage, I always found elopement cute and romantic. A little Googling revealed that New Orleans had permissive marriage laws, and that seemed much more my style than Vegas. New Orleans has always had a special place in my heart. It’s a city of survivors, a good place for beginnings, and exactly where I wanted to start our life together.
Planning my wedding was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done, which is weird, because I am a control freak. I imagine if we’d had a big wedding I would have been fretting about flowers or if our families were going to get along with each other or all kinds of things that I can’t even imagine. I commented on APW about trying to plan my elopement and Meg said, basically, stop it. Go get married.
So I let things go. I turned to Google and within the week I had ordered a dress, our wedding bands, a pair of shoes. I’d found a minister, a photographer, and a florist. I tried to find a hairdresser in New Orleans and had visions of a fabulous up-do shellacked to my head with a lot of hairspray, but I ended up going with Spin Pins instead. I didn’t pack any makeup, just chapstick. I planned my bouquet through text-only e-mails. We flew to New Orleans, got settled in the hotel, and took photos the day before our wedding. We were sweating from head to toe but we were so happy that we couldn’t stop smiling. I was smiling with my teeth, something I never do because I’m self-conscious of my smile, but I couldn’t help it. There was no stopping me.
On our wedding day, we put on our clothes that were wrinkled from the plane trip and sweaty from the photo session. Our minister called us on the phone and said she was going to be late, which freaked me out because I’ve heard it’s bad luck to get married on the half-hour. We drove to the park where we were going to get married and waited in the car. My soon-to-be-husband listened patiently while I babbled about superstitions and having a terrible feeling that everything in the entire world was going to go wrong, possibly forever. When she finally showed up at 4:30 on the nose, my man turned to me, squeezed my hand, and said, “You make your own luck.” I have never been more in love with him than in that moment.
The ceremony, as you can imagine, flew by. The minister snapped a picture of us. We said our vows. We exchanged rings. We kissed. We walked back to our rental car and drove to go get wedding beignets. It was divine.
I don’t regret eloping for a single second. Yes, it was hard to tell my family, particularly my favorite three women who were very upset that they didn’t get to do the whole wedding planning ritual with me. Two of them cried. But if I had a chance to go back and have a traditional wedding to appease them, I wouldn’t. I know that probably sounds selfish. But my new husband and I had each other all to ourselves in a city far away from home, isolated from everything. We managed to have a laid back, stress-free wedding, which is nothing short of a miracle given my personality. We had a peaceful start to our marriage after a really crazy few months, and I will always feel so blessed for that.
Photos by the amazing Maile Lani Photography in New Orleans